'Our garden is colour blind, inclusive and warm': Reflections on green school grounds and social inclusion
Dyment, JE and Bell, A, 'Our garden is colour blind, inclusive and warm': Reflections on green school grounds and social inclusion, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12, (2) pp. 1-15. ISSN 1360-3116 (2008) [Refereed Article]
In the interest of enhancing children's environments, communities around the world are 'greening' school grounds, replacing asphalt and manicured grass with a diversity of design elements such as trees, shrubs, gardens, water features, artwork and gathering areas. Despite a growing body of research from a number of disciplines exploring the potential of these spaces, very little is known about the ways they can promote social inclusion with respect to gender, class, race and ability. This paper explores the relationship between school ground greening and social inclusion in a Canadian public school board where approximately 20% of more than 500 schools have begun the greening process. A mixed methods approach was used: (1) 149 questionnaires were completed by administrators, teachers and parents associated with 45 school ground greening initiatives; and (2) 21 follow-up interviews were conducted with administrators, teachers and parents at five schools across a range of socio-economic statuses. The study revealed that green school grounds are more inclusive of people who may feel isolated on the basis of gender, class, race and ability, suggesting that these spaces promote, in a very broad sense, social inclusion.